noun, plural ab·scis·sas, ab·scis·sae [ab-sis-ee] /æbˈsɪs i/. Mathematics.

(in plane Cartesian coordinates) the x-coordinate of a point: its distance from the y-axis measured parallel to the x-axis.

Compare ordinate.

Origin of abscissa

1690–1700; feminine of Latin abscissus (past participle of abscindere to abscind)
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Examples from the Web for abscissa

Historical Examples of abscissa

  • The abscissa of such a curve is the reading of the instrument to be corrected.

  • To provide for such cases the curve is drawn as if it never touched the abscissa.


    Carveth Read

  • A curve is thus obtained, the ordinate representing growth elongation and the abscissa the time.

    Life Movements in Plants

    Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose

  • As the temperature is made to rise one degree per minute, the abscissa also represents rise of temperature (Fig. 66).

    Life Movements in Plants

    Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose

  • A Thermo-crescent Curve is thus obtained, the ordinate of which represents increment of growth, and the abscissa, the time.

    Life Movements in Plants

    Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose

British Dictionary definitions for abscissa


noun plural -scissas or -scissae (-ˈsɪsiː)

the horizontal or x -coordinate of a point in a two-dimensional system of Cartesian coordinates. It is the distance from the y -axis measured parallel to the x -axisCompare ordinate

Word Origin for abscissa

C17: New Latin, originally linea abscissa a cut-off line
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for abscissa

1690s, from Latin abscissa (linea) "(a line) cut off," from fem. past participle of abscindere "to cut off," from ab- "off, away" (see ab-) + scindere "to cut" (see shed (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for abscissa



Plural abscissas abscissae (ăb-sĭsē)

The distance of a point from the y-axis on a graph in the Cartesian coordinate system. It is measured parallel to the x-axis. For example, a point having coordinates (2,3) has 2 as its abscissa. Compare ordinate.
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